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Staff

  • ​​Ronald Thompson | Founder and Senior Director

    Ronald Thompson is the Founder and Senior Director of the Boys Town National Research Institute SM for Child and Family Studies. He has a Ph.D. in Psychological and Cultural Studies from the University of Nebraska and has a total of forty years of experience as a clinician, program administrator, applied researcher, and research administrator. Dr. Thompson has held faculty positions at the University Of Nebraska Department Of Special Education, Creighton University School of Medicine, and the University Of Kansas Department Of Human Development. He has published more than 75 papers and book chapters and made more than 100 professional and scientific presentations.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1254
    ronald.thompson@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Parent Training and Support
    • In-Home Family Services
    • Treatment Fidelity and Program Implementation
    • Residential Services and Aftercare

    Selected Recent Publications

    Ingram, S. D., Cash, S. J., Oats, R. G., Simpson, A., & Thompson, R. W. (2015). Development of an evidence-informed in-home family services model for families and children at-risk of abuse and neglect.Child & Family Social Work, 20(2), 139-148

    Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Ringle, J. L., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder, J. J. (2015). Reducing risks for problem behaviors during the high school transition: Proximal outcomes in the Common Sense Parenting trial.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 2568-2578.

    Thompson, R.W., & Daly, D. L. (2015). The Family Home Program: An adaptation of the Teaching Family Model at Boys Town. In J. K. Whittaker, J. F. Del Valle, & L. Holmes (Eds.), Therapeutic residential care with children and youth: Developing evidence-based international practice (pp. 113-123). London and Philadelphia: Kingsley Publishers.

    Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder, J. J. (2014). A framework for testing and promoting expanded dissemination of promising preventive interventions that are being implemented in community settings.Prevention Science, 15(5), 674-683.

    Thompson, R., & Koley, S. (2014). Engaging families in in-home family intervention.Reclaiming Children and Youth, 23(2), 19-22.

    Van Dyk, T. R., Nelson, T. D., Epstein, M. H., & Thompson, R. W. (2014). Physical health status as a predictor of treatment outcomes among youth in residential treatment.Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 22, 237-248.

  • Alex Mason | Director of Research

    Alex Mason is Director of Research at the National Research Institute for Child and Family Studies. Dr. Mason has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Nevada-Reno and completed postdoctoral training in developmental psychopathology. He has held faculty and research positions at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Washington, and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1269
    walter.mason@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Family-Based Preventive Intervention
    • Adolescent and Young Adult Development
    • Substance Misuse and Co-Occurring Problems
    • Longitudinal and Experimental Methods

    Selected Recent Publications

    Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Ringle, J. L., Hanson, K., Gross, T. J., Haggerty, K. P. (in press). Prevalence of marijuana and other substance use before and after Washington state’s change from legal medical marijuana to legal medical and non-medical marijuana: Cohort comparisons in a sample of adolescents.Substance Abuse.

    Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Ringle, J. L., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder, J. J. (2015). Reducing risks for problem behaviors during the high school transition: Proximal outcomes in the Common Sense Parenting trial.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 2568-2578

    Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Thompson, R. W., Haggerty, K. P., & Snyder, J. J. (2014). A framework for testing and promoting expanded dissemination of promising preventive interventions that are being implemented in community settings.Prevention Science, 15(5), 674-683.

    Mason, W. A., Chmelka, M. B., Howard, B. K., & Thompson, R. W. (2013). Comorbid alcohol and cannabis use disorders among high-risk youth at intake into residential care.Journal of Adolescent Health, 53(3), 350-355.

    Mason, W.A., & Spoth, R.L. (2012). Sequence of alcohol involvement from early onset to young adult alcohol abuse: Differential prediction and moderation by family-focused preventive intervention.Addiction, 107, 2137-2148.

  • Jonathan Huefner | Research Scientist

    Jonathan Huefner is a Research Scientist for the National Research Institute. He has a Ph.D. in Organizational Social Psychology from Brigham Young University and 24 years experience conducting research and university lecturing. Dr. Huefner has published or presented over 70 professional and scientific papers.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1257
    jonathan.huefner@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Negative peer contagion in residential care settings
    • Residential care advocacy
    • Psychotropic medication use with at-risk children
    • Family involvement and youth outcomes
    • Patterns of movement and outcomes across the child-care continuum

    Selected Recent Publications

    Huefner, J. C., Pick, R. M., Smith, G. L., Stevens, A. L., & Mason, M. A. (2015). Parental involvement in residential care: Distance, frequency of contact, and youth outcomes.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1481-1489. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-9953-0

    Foltz, R., & Huefner, J. C. (2014). The subjective experience of being medicated in troubled youth: A sample from residential treatment.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(4), 752-763. doi:10.1007/s10826-013-9842-y

    Griffith, A. K., Epstein, M. H., & Huefner, J. C. (2014). Psychotropic medication management within residential treatment centers: Physician opinions about difficulties and barriers.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(4), 745-751. doi: 10.1007/s10826-013-9790-6

    Huefner, J. C., & Griffith, A. K. (2014). Psychotropic medication use with troubled children and youth.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(4), 613-616. doi: 10.1007/s10826-014-9941-4

    Huefner, J. C., Griffith, A. K., Smith, G. L., Vollmer, D. G., & Leslie, L. K. (2014). Reducing psychotropic medication in an intensive residential treatment center.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(4), 675-685. doi:10.1007/s10826-012-9628-7

    Huefner, J. C., & Vollmer, D. G. (2014). Characteristics and treatment needs of preadolescent versus adolescent children in an intensive residential treatment program.Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 31(4), 301-315. doi: 10.1080/0886571X.2014.958349

    Bellonci, C., Huefner, J. C., Griffith, A. K., Vogel-Rosen, G., Smith, G. L., & Preston, S. (2013). Concurrent reductions in psychotropic medication, assault, and physical restraint in two residential treatment programs for youth.Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 1773-1779. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.08.007

    Nelson, T. D.,  van Dyk, T. R., Lundahl, A., Huefner, J., Thompson, R. W.,  & Epstein, M. H. (2013) Patterns and correlates of adolescent weight change in residential care.Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 960-965.

  • Beth Chmelka | Director of Data Support

    Beth is the Director of Data Support for the National Research Institute. Beth has a B.S. in Psychology from the University of Nebraska at Kearney. Her research experience includes database systems, survey development, program evaluation, and statistical analyses.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1258
    mary.chmelka@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Substance misuse of youth in residential care
    • Psychometrics of the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire
    • Oversight of standardized outcome data collection
    • Longitudinal Structural Equation Modeling

    Selected Recent Publications

    Savolainen, J., Mason, W. A., Bolen, J. D., Chmelka, M. B., Hurtig, T., Ebeling, H., Nordström, T., Taanila, A. (in press). The path from childhood behavioral disorders to felony offending: Investigating the role of adolescent drinking, peer marginalization, and school failure..
    Criminal Behavior and Mental Health. doi: 10.1002/cbm.1931

    Mason, W. A., Chmelka, M. B., Howard, B. K., & Thompson, R. W. (2013). Comorbid alcohol and cannabis use disorders among high-risk youth at intake into residential care.Journal of Adolescent Health, 53, 350-355. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2013.04.002.

    Mason, W. A., Chmelka, M. B., & Thompson, R. W. (2012). Responsiveness of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) in a sample of high-risk youth in residential treatment.Child & Youth Care Forum, 41, 479-492. doi:10.1007/s10566-012-9179-5.

    Chmelka, M. B., Trout, A. L., Mason, W. A., & Wright, T. (2011). Children with and without disabilities in residential care: Risk at program entry, departure and six-month follow-up.Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties, 16, 383-399. doi:10.1080/13632752.2011.616346.

  • Rob Oats | Senior Research Analyst

    Rob Oats is a Senior Research Analyst for the National Research Institute. Rob has a M.A. in Educational Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and has experience with the application and evaluation of behavioral-based interventions in educational and clinical settings. Rob has been involved with projects evaluating Boys Town Well-Managed Schools, In-Home Family Services, and Common Sense Parenting ®. He is the editor of the National Research Institute Newsletter, Data News You Can Use, and the annual National Research Institute Applied Research Bibliography.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1261
    robert.oats@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Boys Town Education Model ®
    • Common Sense Parenting

    Selected Recent Publications

    Duppong-Hurley, K., Hoffman, S., Barnes, B., & Oats, R. (in press). Perspectives on engagement barriers and alternative delivery formats from non-completers of community-run parenting programs.Journal of Child and Family Studies.

    Gross, T. J., Mason, W. A., Parra, G. F., Ringle, J., Oats, R. G., & Haggerty, K. P. (2015). Adherence and dosage contributions to parenting program quality.Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research, 6(4), 467-489.

    Ingram, S. D., Cash, S. J., Oats, R. G., Simpson, A., & Thompson, R. W. (2015). Development of an evidence-informed in-home family services model for families and children at-risk of abuse and neglect.Child & Family Social Work, 20(2), 139-148 doi: 10.1111/cfs.1261

    Fleming, C. B., Mason, W. A., Haggerty, K. P., Thompson, R. W., Fernandez, K., Casey-Goldstein, M., & Oats, R. G. (2015). Predictors of participation in parenting workshops for improving adolescent behavioral and mental health: Results from the Common Sense Parenting trial.Journal of Primary Prevention, 36(2), 105-118 doi: 10.1007/s10935-015-0386-3

    Oats, R. G., Cross, W. F., Mason, W. A., Casey-Goldstein, M., Thompson, R. W., Hanson, K., & Haggerty, K. P. (2014). Implementation assessment of widely used but understudied prevention programs: An illustration from the Common Sense Parenting trial.Evaluation and Program Planning, 44, 89-97.

  • Jay Ringle | Senior Research Analyst

    Jay Ringle is a Research Analyst for the National Research Institute. Jay has a M.A. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Jay has experience as a behavior interventionist in schools, research design, database development, and multivariate statistical analysis.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1259
    jay.ringle@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Common Sense Parenting Outcome Study
    • Family Home Program Implementation
    • Blending of Family Home Program and In-home Family Services

    Selected Recent Publications

    Mason, W. A., Fleming, C. B., Ringle, J. L., Hanson, K., Gross, T. J., Haggerty, K. P. (in press). Prevalence of marijuana and other substance use before and after Washington state’s change from legal medical marijuana to legal medical and non-medical marijuana: Cohort comparisons in a sample of adolescents.Substance Abuse.

    Ringle, J. L., Thompson, R. W., & Way, M. (2015). Reunifying families after an out-of-home residential stay: Evaluation of a blended intervention.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 2079-2087.

    Ringle, J. L., Huefner, J. C., James, S., Pick, R., & Thompson, R. W. (2012). 12-month follow-up outcomes for youth departing and integrated residential continuum of care.Children and Youth Services Review, 34, 675-679. doi: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2011.12.013

    Ringle, J. L. , & Larzelere, R. E. (2012). The Child Suicide Risk Assessment. In A. Shrivastava, M. Kimbrell & D. Lester (Eds.), Suicide from a global perspective: Risk assessment and management (pp. 61-66). Hauppauge, New York: Nova Science Publishers

  • Gail Smith | Senior Research Analyst

    Gail Smith is a Senior Research Analyst for the National Research Institute. Gail has a B.S. in Social Welfare and Computer Science from the University of Nebraska- Omaha and has experience in database development/management and advanced statistical analysis.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1263
    gail.smith@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Family Homes Program
    • Psychotropic Medication Utilization
    • Gender Differences
    • Behavioral, Mental Health and Academic Status of Youth in Residential Care

    Selected Recent Publications

    Huefner, J. C., Pick, R. M., Smith, G. L., Stevens, A. L., & Mason, W. A. (2015). Parental involvement in residential care: Distance, frequency of contact, and youth outcomes.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1481-1489. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-9953-0

    Huefner, J. C., Griffith, A. K., Smith, G. L., Vollmer, D. G., & Leslie, L. K. (2014). Reducing psychotropic medication in an intensive residential treatment center.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 23(4), 675-685. doi:10.1007/s10826-012-9628-7

    Bellonci, C., Huefner, J. C., Griffith, A. K., Vogel-Rosen, G., Smith, G. L., & Preston, S. (2013). Concurrent reductions in psychotropic medication, assault, and physical restraint in two residential treatment programs for youth.Children and Youth Services Review, 35, 1773-1779. doi:10.1016/j.childyouth.2013.08.007

    Smith, G. L., Stevens, A. L., & Huefner, J. C. (2012). Admission and discharge differences for continuum and non-continuum youth in a staff secure residential program.Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 29(2), 118-131. doi: 10.1080/0886571X.2012.669259

  • Amy Stevens | Resear​ch Analyst

    Amy Stevens is a Research Analyst for the National Research Institute. Amy has a B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a M.A. in Biological Anthropology from New Mexico State University. She has experience as an Assistant Family-Teacher at Boys Town.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1255
    amy.stevens@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Parent Connectors Program
    • Foster Family Services Model Implementation
    • Data Management Systems

    Selected Recent Publications

    January, S.-A. A., Duppong Hurley, K., Stevens, A. L., Kutash, K., Duchnowski, A. J., & Pereda, N. (2015). Evaluation of a community-based peer-to-peer support program for parents of at-risk youth with emotional and behavioral difficulties. Journal of Child and Family Studies.Advance online publication. doi:10.1007/s10826-015-0271-y

    Nelson, T. D., Haugen, K. A., Resetar Volz, J. L., Zhe, E. J., Axelrod, M. I., Filigno, S. S., Stevens, A. L., & Lundahl, A. (2015). Overweight and obesity among youth entering residential care: Prevalence and correlates.Residential Treatment for Children & Youth, 32(2), 99-112. DOI: 10.1080/0886571X.2015.1043786

    Huefner, J. C., Pick, R. M., Smith, G. L., Stevens, A. L., & Mason, W. A. (2015). Parental involvement in residential care: Distance, frequency of contact, and youth outcomes.Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24, 1481-1489. doi:10.1007/s10826-014-9953-0

  • Carolyn Kropf | Research Assistant

    Carolyn is a Research Assistant for the National Research Institute and has a B.S. in sociology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. She works primarily doing follow-up surveys for youth and families.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1287
    carolyn.kropf@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Follow-up Surveys of youth and families
    • Parent Connectors Data Support
  • Matthew Palmer | Research Assistant

    Matt is a Research Assistant for the National Research Institute and has a B.S. in psychology from the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Currently, Matt is responsible for interviewing youth and families at follow-up.  He also has experience as a Behavioral Health Technician and Shift Manager at the Boys Town Residential Treatment Center.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1279
    matthew.palmer@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Follow-up Surveys of youth and families
    • Intake assessment
  • Doug Stuva, Jr. | Research Assistant

    Doug is a Research Assistant for the National Research Institute and has a B.A. in history from the University of Nebraska-Omaha.  Doug works primarily with intake assessment and follow-up surveys for youth and families.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1278
    douglas.stuva@boystown.org

    Current Research

    • Follow-up Surveys of youth and families
    • Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire
  • Connie Spath | Administrative Assistant

    Connie Spath is an Administrative Assistant for the National Research Institute. Connie is responsible for coordinating the National Research Institute Speaker Series and the Scientific Advisory Panel. She also assists with the Applied Research Bibliography and other product dissemination efforts.

    Contact

    (402) 498-1255
    connie.spath@boystown.org

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